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55-60% turnout in Maharashtra
October 13, 2004 13:29 IST
Last Updated: October 13, 2004 19:39 IST
An estimated 55-60% of the 6.59 crore electorate on Wednesday exercised their franchise in the elections to the 288-member Maharashtra assembly when polling ended at 1730 IST, Election Commission spokesperson A N Jha told reporters in Delhi on Wednesday.
The polling was preceded with reports of clashes between Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena workers in Pune and Sindhudurg districts. In Pune, three NCP workers were injured in a scuffle while two Shiv Sainiks were arrested in Sindhudurg in connection with a clash with Congress workers.
In Naxal-infested Gadchiroli district in Vidarbha region, a skirmish between Naxals and police at Binagunda left two policemen injured, police said. An IAF chopper narrowly escaped a grenade attack by Naxals at the same place on Tuesday evening.
Among the early voters were Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and his wife Ujjwala in Solapur, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati, film star-cum-politician Sunil Dutt, Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Pramod Mahajan and industrialist Anil Ambani and wife Tina. Bollywood personalities were also not behind with film-maker Pooja Bhatt and lyricist Gulzar exercising their franchise in Mumbai.
The estimated 6.59 crore voters (3,43,61,611 male; 3,15,51,654 female) will decide the fate of 2,678 candidates in the crucial elections, the first face off between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party after the United Progressive Alliance assumed power at the Centre dislodging the National Democratic Alliance.
A total of 82,000 Electronic Voting Machines have been installed and 350,000 polling staff deployed across the 35 districts. Polling began at the stroke of 7:30 am at 64,390 booths.
Altogether 2,390 paramilitary force personnel along with 4,700 civil police and 5,700 home guards have been drawn from the Centre in addition to the 70,000 police and 30,000 home guards from the state to ensure security arrangements.